Accessing benefits for you and your family… Made easy!

Could your family use extra assistance during the pandemic? You’re not alone.
Pabenefitscenterhotline Social

The onset of COVID-19 created a health and economic crisis of epic proportions. 

If your family is one of the many rapidly losing income due to childcare needs keeping you at home or if you have found yourself suddenly unemployed due to the pandemic, you are not alone. Now more than ever, there is an increased need for assistance to help families pay for their basic needs. Many folks are eligible for programs that support access to food, medication, healthcare, and more, but don’t know it or are deterred by the complicated enrollment process, which is why a national nonprofit called Benefits Data Trust (BDT) created hotlines to help callers complete screenings and submit applications for public benefits using one-on-one assistance. 

Even before COVID-19, there were 38 million people in America living in poverty in 2018, and yet, as of 2019, $60 billion in essential public benefits were left on the table. 

BDT began its work in Southwestern Pennsylvania well before the pandemic. Since 2005, in Allegheny County alone, BDT screened 631,00 households and helped deliver more than $112 million in benefits for applicants. In 2018, the average value of benefits delivered totaled $4,709 per Allegheny County household.

A BDT client from McKees Rocks recently had to stop working as a handyman due to a spine condition requiring surgery. He called the PA Benefits Center and received help applying for expedited SNAP (food stamps) benefits, which would give him an extra $194 per month to help him with groceries. 

“Some people really don’t want to help you and it’s hard enough to ask for help,” he shared. “I really can’t thank you enough.”

BDT typically uses targeted outreach to invite specific households to call their hotlines, but now, in light of the increased need for help during the pandemic, they’ve opened several hotlines to the general public so they can help more people nationwide who have been affected by the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Another BDT client, a 43-year-old mother in New York City, could no longer work because she had to care for her four sons after schools were closed. At the time, her husband, a small business owner, was still going to work each day but barely making any sales. The family was running out of money and food. After a quick screening, BDT submitted an application on their behalf for expedited SNAP benefits worth more than $700 per month.

For these families, and many others, public benefits are a vital lifeline during uncertain times.

Residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, and Beaver Counties are invited to call the PA Benefits Center hotline for one-on-one application support. The number is 844-876-5996. Calls are answered Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm. These are the eight benefits supported over this free hotline: 

  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – a nutrition assistance program that helps households pay for groceries each month. 
  • Medicaid (MA) – provides health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people living with disabilities. 
  • Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE) – a prescription assistance program, which helps with co-pays, for individuals 65 and older. 
  • Childcare Subsidy (CCIS) – supports childcare fees for a child under 13 years of age or between 13-19 years old living with a disability. 
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – offers health insurance for children 19 years of age & younger. 
  • Medicare Extra Help (LIS) – is for Medicare beneficiaries and helps pay for Medicare Part D prescription drug costs. 
  • Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) – provides a rebate for eligible homeowner or renters of the property tax or rent they paid in the previous year 
  • Homestead Exemption – offers Real Estate Tax savings to homeowners by reducing the taxable portion of their property.

Whether your family needs benefits assistance because of the pandemic or any other reason, BDT is here to help.

Learn more about BDT by visiting www.bdtrust.org. If you have questions about the PA Benefits Center, contact the PA Engagement Associate, Heather Hackett, at hhackett@bdtrust.org.

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